February 28, 2019 / 2:48 AM / 6 months ago

Nikkei falls as U.S.-China trade hopes recede; factory woes deepen

* Machinery, shippers sold after trade optimism fades

* Nexon soars after report Amazon and others submit bids for its holding firm

* Mining stocks outperform

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei fell on Thursday as hopes for progress in U.S.-China trade deals receded and as data showed the biggest decline in Japanese factory output in a year, dragging down cyclical stocks.

The Nikkei share average shed 0.4 percent to 21,473.29 points.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a congressional hearing the United States and China still had hard work ahead to settle their trade dispute in his first public comments since Trump announced a delay to a planned hike in U.S. import tariffs on Sunday.

“Caution about trade deals returned to the market,” said Shingo Ide, chief equity strategist at NLI Research Institute. “The market’s consensus has become that a U.S.-China trade skirmish will last for a while.”

Worsening the mood, Japan’s factory output fell the most in a year in January in a sign slowing Chinese demand and the Sino-U.S. trade war are taking an increasing toll on the country’s manufacturers, a major driver of economic growth.

Machinery and cyclical shares such as shippers lost ground, with Fanuc Corp falling 1.9 percent, Tokyo Electron sliding 1.2 percent, Komatsu Ltd shedding 2.1 percent and Mitsui OSK Lines shedding 1.9 percent.

The shipping sector dropped 1.3 percent and was the worst performer on the board, followed by electric machinery , falling 1.1 percent.

Online gaming company Nexon Co jumped 6.2 percent after Maeil Business Newspaper said on Wednesday that Amazon.com Inc, Comcast Corp and Electronic Arts Inc submitted initial bids for its holding firm NXC Corp, citing investment banking sources.

Mining and oil shares soared after oil prices soared 2 percent on Wednesday after U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly plummeted, before falling 0.2 percent during Asian trade.

Inpex Corp rose 1.4 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co soared 2.3 percent.

The broader Topix fell 0.3 percent to 1,615.02.

Editing by Kim Coghill

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